Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

WEDDING BELLS....It looks like Washington has a new power couple!

Two Bush administration officials who have been linked in scandal are now linked in wedlock. The union of former Deputy Interior Secretary J. Steven Griles and Sue Ellen Wooldridge could have implications for the investigation into Griles's ties to ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

....Legal experts note that people can refuse to testify against their spouses, and that in some cases, people can prevent their spouse from testifying against them.

....Wooldridge is represented by a lawyer in the matter of her arrangement with Griles and a top lobbyist at ConocoPhillips to buy a $980,000 vacation home. Department of Justice officials said Wooldridge had cleared the purchase with the DoJ.

....As a senior staffer, Wooldridge provided ethics advice to Griles during an investigation by the Interior Department's inspector general, according to published reports.

Brings a tear to your eye, doesn't it? Via Taegan Goddard.

Kevin Drum 12:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (34)

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Comments

Their marriage is in the interest of obstructing justice?

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

I now believe that Gonzales will resign, very soon. And that's what the WH has been planning all along. That's why they wanted his testimony to take place sooner. That's why they allowed the negative reactions of "senior White House officials" to leak to the press. His job was to say nothing new in his testimony. He succeeded. His job was to attract the attention, and then resign. He will do that.

Right now, they are acting like he won't resign, so that we will feel a sense of relief when he does resign. That sense of relief will be aided by some other distraction, which is intended to bury the story. Perhaps Bush will step up the quarreling over troop withdrawal.

Posted by: Doctor Jay on April 20, 2007 at 1:07 PM | PERMALINK

Does this mean, if it is illegal for POTUS to fire a USAtty if the intent is to obstruct justice, that this marriage can be nullified if the intent is similar?

Posted by: Disputo on April 20, 2007 at 1:09 PM | PERMALINK

Assuming the best, perhaps the stresses of their situation brought them together... Assuming the worst, its a new twist on 'marriage of convenience'.

Posted by: sdh on April 20, 2007 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

Which means Cheney should push for same-sex marriage so he can wed Karl Rove less they testify against each other out of self-interest.

Posted by: clone12 on April 20, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

I give up.

How do I become a Republican? Is there is baptismal ceremony or something? I might as well reap the benefit of being a Party apparatchick.

Posted by: gregor on April 20, 2007 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, you elided the best part:

"There have been plenty of cases where marriage was a good strategy for a criminal defendant," said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor. But he added, "It's plausible they simply picked an odd time to wed."
Posted by: Disputo on April 20, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

How do I become a Republican? Is there is baptismal ceremony or something? I might as well reap the benefit of being a Party apparatchick.

I've considered becoming a Republican myself, but I couldn't handle sleeping in a coffin all day.

Posted by: Disputo on April 20, 2007 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

Mhr is a Communist. Send him to Albania.

Posted by: humble blogger on April 20, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

Which means Cheney should push for same-sex marriage so he can wed Karl Rove less they testify against each other out of self-interest.


And legalize polygamy while they're at it so they can all get married.

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

If this is a legal strategy, I think it is unlikely to succeed. Courts have been willing to compel testimony from spouses, so long as the testimony concerns actions which took place prior to the marriage. IANAL.

Posted by: Alex on April 20, 2007 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

It's always so weird when Republicans try to say money is evil.

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2007 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Money *is* evil when it is in the hands of Democrats.

Never forget: IOKIYAR

Posted by: Disputo on April 20, 2007 at 1:35 PM | PERMALINK

Can the spousal protection be retroactive? They werent married when the alleged crimes occured, so do they all of a sudden get protection because they got married?

Seems like a stretch.

Posted by: yep on April 20, 2007 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

There are two different concepts relating to marital privileges, the adverse testimony privilge and privilege relating to confidential communicaitons.

The confidential communications privilege extends only to communications made during marriage. The adverse testimony privilege provides that you cannot be compelled to adversely testify against your spouse.

As a result, while their communications are not protected under the confidential communications privilege, one could not be compelled to testify about those communications against the other under the adverse testimony rule.

IIRC.

Posted by: Dungheap on April 20, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, I forgot to mention that there is a so-called "partner in crime" exception which permits testimony where the spouses jointly committed a crime but I don't know if it is recognized in the federal courts. I imagine it it.

Posted by: Dungheap on April 20, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Department of Justice officials said Wooldridge had cleared the purchase with the DoJ.
I feel better now.

Posted by: asdf on April 20, 2007 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK
The confidential communications privilege extends only to communications made during marriage. The adverse testimony privilege provides that you cannot be compelled to adversely testify against your spouse.

IIRC, even the adverse testimony privilege is usually only available when the events at issue occurred during the marriage, though that is not consistent across all jurisdictions in the US.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

these guys should all be offered plea deals scrubbing prosecution in exchange for extensive front line service in Iraq.

Posted by: Trypticon on April 20, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK


There needs to be a new law defending marriage from these criminals.

Republicans should support it too, because it will have the side benefit of defending marriage from GAY criminals.

Posted by: theo on April 20, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

The family that lies together stays together....

Posted by: nota bene on April 20, 2007 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

I always knew that Republicans would get around eventually to promoting a revival of the custom of arranged marriages.

Posted by: s9 on April 20, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

When does the statute of limitations run on these crimes? That's how long I give this marriage.

Posted by: CuConnacht on April 20, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

No wonder the Repugs helped approve conjugal visits.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 20, 2007 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

cm dicely - Its been a few years, but my experience is that pre-marital communications are per se not protected and a subsequesnt marraige invokation of the adverse spousal testimony rule cannot serve to protect communications relating to a common criminal enterprise.

Posted by: bmaz on April 20, 2007 at 5:25 PM | PERMALINK

cld: "And legalize polygamy while they're at it so they can all get married."

The core problem with your otherwise excellent suggestion is that our nation's only legal precedent is from the 19th Century's Utah Territory, and common law only provided for men to take more than one wife. Therefore, any such law can't violate the constitution's equal protections clause.

That will never happen, so long as society's mores continue to laud the sexual virility of men who take multiple sexual partners, while simultaneously scorning as sluts and whores those women who dare to do the same.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 20, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

Damn, if Princess Bush had only supported gay marriage, he could wed Al and assert spousal privilege.

Of all the rotten luck . . .

Posted by: anonymous on April 20, 2007 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

Spousal privilege comes in all shapes and sizes depending on the jurisdiction you live in. The most common variety is that you cannot be forced to testify against your spouse for statements they made to you while married.

It gets gradually more protective, again, depending on the jurisdiction. In some states you cannot be forced to testify against your spouse for actions your spouse took, while married.

Also some jurisdictions will usually allow you to prevent your spouse from testifying against you for statements you made while married.

Few jurisdictions will allow you to prevent your spouse from testifying against you for actions you took while married. Perhaps none.

I think one or two jurisdictions allow a spouse to prevent one's spouse from even taking the stand at all.

In any case, I know of no jurisdiction that allows a subsequent marriage to innoculate the statments or actions made before being married simply because you are married now.

It has been a while since I have looked at that stuff and I haven't had any cases in it, so I am a bit rusty on that.

-no relation to Ann

Posted by: Coltergeist on April 20, 2007 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

Come on. Washington's new power couple is Wolfy and Riza.

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 20, 2007 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

"There have been plenty of cases where marriage was a good strategy for a criminal defendant," said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor. But he added, "It's plausible they simply picked an odd time to wed."

I love Jonathan Hurley on Hardball.

"And legalize polygamy while they're at it so they can all get married."

How FUN is it that the Mormon is joking about having one wife?

Posted by: Cal Gal on April 20, 2007 at 11:49 PM | PERMALINK

mhr: "$980,000 wouldn't buy a bathroom in liberal senator Diane Feinstein's San Francisco home."

And it wouldn't buy a window in the space capsule you use to fly to Pluto every day, to find the Plutocrats you dream of burying in a mass grave before being crowned King of the Idiots, with a golden crown made from the teeth of dead liberals. Trailing behind you will be toilet paper made of the shredded U.S. Constitution.

It's all true; I read it in Drudge.

Posted by: Kenji on April 21, 2007 at 12:08 AM | PERMALINK

Does that stuff about not having to testify against a spouse also apply to stuff that happened before the person was a spouse? Retroactive like that?

Posted by: focus on April 21, 2007 at 4:26 AM | PERMALINK

Being against gay marriage and polygamy has finally bitten the president in the ass.

Of course they still have the presidential pardon. I suppose there is something in the patriot act that allows it to be applied to all members of a political party.

Posted by: B on April 21, 2007 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK

$980,000 wouldn't buy a bathroom in liberal senator Diane Feinstein's San Francisco home. Nor in John Edward's new house. It might buy a cabin that John Kerry might use on weekends. Teddy Kennedy's houses cost a lot more than $980,000. Nany Peloi has $65,000,000 and wouldn't dream of living in that slum abode. Liberal Democrats Jon Corzine, Herbert Kohl, Jay Rockefeller, Jane Harman, Pete Stark and others too numerous too mention live like the plutocrats they are but pass laws that Stalin could love. All believed in equality and social justice.

Since you appear to have studying this matter intensively, could you explain what point it is you are trying to make? The people you mention appear to be practicing "enlightened capitalism" as Adam Smith advocated it: make money as you will but use your wealth and power to see to the needs of a well-run and moral society. What is the contradiction between their wealth and moral position? Your reference to them as "plutocrats" is the closest thing to a communist meme I have seen in this forum recently.

Posted by: Berken on April 22, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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